When it comes to wonderful, breathtaking sightings wildlife never cease to amaze. And this majestic fox is definitely one of the Mother’s Nature most fascinating things. Due to a rare condition, the commonly red fur comes with some dark stripe, making those creatures a sight to behold.
Also known as the cross fox, the majestic creature has a unique feature because of a rare condition called melanism. Unlikely the albinism, who’s a lack of skin pigmentation, the melanism occurs because of the skin’s black pigmentation. And while most of the animals with this rare condition have a totally black fur, in this particularly situation things are a little different. Maybe that’s why they’re even more fascinating.
Even though cross foxes are incredibly hard to spot these days, things looked completely different in the past. According to wildlife experts, these majestic creatures were once roaming the North America in high numbers. Unfortunately, at the beginning oh the 20th century, due to a high demand of their fur, they almost went extinct.
The cross foxes share a lot of similarities with the red foxes. In fact, they only got a larger tail and of course a different fur colour. Their name was given due to a long dark stripe running down its back, intersecting another stripe to form a cross over the shoulder.
Speaking of melanism, a few month ago an incredible black serval was spotted in the wild. The stunning snap of the secretive feline was captured by the British photographer George Turner in Tanzania.
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The black serval. Can’t describe how mind-blowing this was… and still is. For context, even seeing a “normal” serval is tough. They’re shy, secretive cats that tend to live in tall grasses — the perfect combination for staying unnoticed. Every time I’ve been privileged enough to see them, my heart skips a beat. Melanism (increased development of the dark-coloured pigment melanin in skin/hair) in servals primarily occurs in East Africa, particularly in the highland regions over 2000m, which is what makes this sighting particularly special. At around 1000m, the Namiri Plains, Tanzania, are considerably “lower” than the normal altitude were melanism is more prevalent. It’s likely this particular serval travelled from the nearby – and much higher – Ngorongoro Crater and established a new territory. Nobody *really* knows why melanism occurs in servals. Some think the increased altitude (and forested habitat that comes with it) reduces exposure to daylight, encouraging melanism. There’s no guarantee that “Manja” (named after the guide at @asiliaafrica who first spotted him), should he find a mate, will produce melanistic kittens. As melanism is carried by a recessive gene, it could be years before any begin appearing in the area. The hope, for now, is that he continues to flourish in the grasslands and build on his territory. Also, what serval could resist those charming good looks?! [D5, 500mm f/4]